Therapy and Treatment
Staying Active, to Keep Dominic Active:
Since the accident in 2011 Dominic is unable to enjoy his fitness routine. Since then his family and friends have worked actively at keeping his body physically strong.
We have been using a variety of physiotherapies such as, Massage, Somatic educational systems, Assisted cycling, Bio-energy healing and other forms of passive movement.
As we learn more about the effectiveness of these activities and ideas we will share this information here, but we also hope to share this with a broader community of people and families who are facing similar challenges. Should you have other experience, ideas or suggestions please contact us.
Acquired Brain Injury Treatment:
Brain plasticity, also known as Neuroplasticity or Cortical Remapping, is a term that refers to the brain’s ability to change and adapt as a result of experience.
Today, it is understood that the brain possesses the remarkable capacity to reorganize pathways, create new connections and, in some cases, even create new neurons.
This principle forms the basis of Dominic's recovery.
Massage is a general term for pressing, rubbing and manipulating the soft tissue of the body, e.g. skin, muscles, tendons and ligaments. Types of massage can range from applying deep pressure to light stroking.
Shirley Roe is a Holistic therapist who visits Dominic regularly. She applies therapeutic techniques from both Swedish massage and Indian head massage.
These forms of massage use long strokes, kneading, deep circular movements, vibration and tapping to help relax and energize.
Massage is generally considered a complementary therapy as part of alternative medicine and is increasingly being offered alongside standard treatments for a wide range of medical conditions. It is practised alongside regular medical care.
Studies of the benefits of massage therapy demonstrate that it is an effective treatment for:
- Reducing or eliminating pain
- Improving joint mobility, circulation and immune system functioning
- Increasing lymphatic drainage
- Reducing depression, anxiety and tension within muscles
- Increasing body awareness
- Aiding the healing of soft tissue strains or injuries
- Reducing the production of the stress hormone cortisol
- Boosting the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine
Beyond the benefits for specific conditions or diseases, some people enjoy massage for the sense of comfort and empowerment they receive from the session.
During her 90 minute sessions with Dominic, Shirley also practices Reflexology on Dominic’s feet. Reflexology is an holistic therapeutic approach that treats the whole person by applying pressure to specific points on the feet. Each organ in the body is linked to a particular point on the foot. By massaging the feet, Shirley can get a sense of which organs are out of balance and, therefore, work to restore homeostasis, i.e., encouraging a stable condition in the body’s healing systems which ultimately leads to health an well being.
The benefits of reflexology are similar to those of massage therapy, as mentioned above; however, the technique focuses on a smaller surface area of the body. Reflexology helps leave the patient feeling relaxed and revived.
Also used in Dominic’s therapy is Neuro-Physiotherapy which aims to identify and maximise movement potential and quality of life. Treatment programmes are specific to Dominic’s needs and based on goals identified during his initial assessment session. These include: strengthening, stretching and sitting balance. So far they have addressed issues pro-actively to help prevent long term problems from developing. Dominic’s unique rehabilitation programme aims to promote or enhance his movement potential in weaker muscle groups.
NEUROMUSCULAR THERAPY (NMT)
Neuromuscular Therapy aims to bring balance between the central nervous system and the musculo-skeletal system. NMT employs several different body massage techniques, including: soft tissue release (applying pressure during specific movements), positional release and dynamic stretching.
Prof. Gopalan Sivakumaar, Goal Oriented Service Health Independent (GOSHI), is a Specialist Senior Neurological Physiotherapist working in First Step Therapy Centre, Newry, Co.Down. Prof. Sivakumaar believes that through “Repeated Intensive Retraining to Brain” (RIRB) therapy is performed, any form of disability can be corrected to a certain extent. He is a mentor, working with Dominic in this dedicated, high quality treatment for his rehabilitation.
FELDENKRAIS METHOD and ANAT BANIEL METHOD
Mark Keogh is a therapist using these techniques with Dominic. These two methods are neurologically based and are powerful ways to overcome limitations of movement. The methods use movement and directed attention to create the conditions for organic learning. This type of learning forms new neural pathways in the brain and improves the range, precision and quality of movement and function.The sessions are designed to help clients learn how to reduce tension and to make movement and function easier and simpler. These therapies are applied to people of all ages who have a variety of special needs, including patients experiencing pain or who have movement limitations.
For example, Mark conducts one-to-one sessions with children and adults where he works to meet the specified needs of each person. These could range from general pain management to regaining movement in the hand or legs. His therapeutic work also includes reducing tension, thus, improving movement for those who have suffered a brain injury or stroke. Mark has done a number of sessions with Dominic’s nephew which have provided great results.
Bio energy is performed on Dominic by Carole McDonnell. This form of therapy is an Eastern based energy therapy which is non-intrusive and gentle. The only patient requirement is a removal of shoes and their watch. Very little touch is actually required and the few techniques which do call for it, include a gentle touch to the head and knees by the therapist.
The therapist clears any blocks found in a person’s energy field. She achieves this by making hand movements around the clients body while hovering her hands about two or three inches away.
This is a hands free computer control system used for people with a variety of special needs, such as those with limited expressive language skills, or those with severe or multiple disabilities in which spoken communication is affected. The system works by placing a special headband on the patient.
“A headband fitted with sensors detects electrical signals from facial
muscles, eye movements, and brainwaves. Software converts forehead signals into
computer controls or “Brainfingers.” Controls are tailored to the individual’s needs and
can range from a simple left mouse click to a complex combination of cursor control,
mouse buttons and keyboard keys.” www.brainfingers.com
We have use this to try and stimulate Dominic, as well as a communication device. While really interesting, we have not been able to fully figure it out for Dominic. Ideally, if anyone else has experience using this and giving us a lesson, we would be very open to it.
Emotiv is another wireless headset aid that Dominic uses. In general, it is used to understand brain performance by measuring brain activity via sensor pads in the headset. It passively reads mental commands and facial expressions, and uses these brain pulses to collect data. It then sends the information gathered to specific software for interpretation. By using this headset, we aim to obtain a general picture of the cognitive performance and therefore, measure the Dominic’s engagement, stress levels, excitement,focus, frustration and sense of relaxation.
In our experience with using the Emotiv headset, we find it is not as user friendly as Brainfingers and the customer support is also not as good. But we like to use anything that has a potential to benefit to Dominic’s situation.
For more information on Emotiv, go to https://www.emotiv.com/